MERRILLVILLE | In the 2009 season-opener, Andrean's Mike Croux was thrown to the wolves as a freshman against Lake Central.
The 59ers' goalkeeper at the time, John Gore, received a red card and was unable to play, which prompted the beginning of Croux's varsity career as a goalie.
A few weeks later, Gore was shifted to sweeper, while the 59ers stuck with the then-green Croux at goalkeeper.
Fast-forward to 2012, and Croux has molded himself into one of the best goalkeepers in the area. Including ties with Crown Point, Clark and Bishop Noll, the senior has recorded 10 shutouts this season. Andrean's only loss was a 1-0 decision to Chesterton.
While that statistic is indeed impressive, Croux does realize that a lot of that falls upon his ability to mesh with the defenders in front of him.
"I think this team is more like a family," he said. "With the defense, I only have to make a few saves per game. They'll get back. Ryan Ricciardi, the right back, is so fast. He'll just catch up on breakaways, which makes it a whole lot easier for me."
Though the defense is immensely talented, Andrean coach Pete Reist still readily praises Croux for his skills between the pipes.
"He's matured," Reist said. "He trains hard and has attended some camps. He's done the extra things that are required to take his game to the next level. He's very, very quick. Anyone who will take the time to come see him will see that he has the talent to play at the next level."
Perhaps the biggest improvement in Croux's game is his knowledge of when to come out of the box or when to stay back. His increased aggressiveness in that aspect has been useful in thwarting the offenses of teams with good speed, such as Bishop Noll.
With plans to play at the next level, Croux is just concentrating on the rest of this season right now. He and the rest of the 59ers plan on making a deep postseason run.
"We set goals like sweep the week, and we always want to do that," Croux said. "Our goal every year is to make it down to state, and I really do feel we have a good chance at that with our team."